Henderson `nervous' about the Exacta trip.
FONDMORT, whose soaring final-fence leap propelled him to Tripleprint Gold Cup glory last month, seeks to convert his enthusiasm into further prestige success at Kempton this afternoon, writes Lee Mottershead.
A six-length winner of Cheltenham's pre-Christmas showpiece, the Nicky Henderson-trained chaser drops down in trip by five furlongs to take on some of the best two-milers around in the pounds 80,000 Tote Exacta Chase.
The contest, a replacement for last week's abandoned Victor Chandler Chase, has
attracted a quality field, including recent Ascot combatants Young Devereaux and Seebald, Cheltenham Festival winner Fadoudal du Cochet and Dark'n Sharp, last season's Red Rum Chase victor.
It is Fondmort, though, who starts with the best recent credentials, having left Foly Pleasant, Youlneverwalkalone and Cyfor Malta trailing at Cheltenham.
However, despite having sent Fondmort out to win twice around Kempton's two-mile chase course, Henderson is concerned that the course and distance may not be ideal for the gelding, who is to be ridden by Norman Williamson in place of the injured Mick Fitzgerald.
Henderson, who also saddles outsider Demasta, said: "Fondmort's in great form but I'm nervous about dropping him back to two miles on a track as sharp as Kempton - Ascot would probably have suited him better. This race has
always been the plan, though.
"Demasta is useless on anything softer than good, but I need to keep him ticking over and there aren't many alternatives."
Seebald found Young Devereaux a length too good at Ascot but is 10lb better
off now, a fact that encourages David Pipe, son of trainer Martin.
Pipe, whose father also saddles King George VI Chase sixth Wahiba Sands, said: "Wahiba Sands has a lot of weight, but Seebald ran a fantastic race last time when he was just beaten by Young Devereaux. We're a lot better off at the weights, so I hope we can reverse the placings."
Young Devereaux's trainer Paul Nicholls said: "It's gone against us a bit unless we get a lot of rain. He's very well but I'm just a bit nervous that they'll go quick enough for him, and his jumping can be a bit novicey."
Dark'n Sharp got no further than the water jump at Ascot and reappears with trainer Richard Phillips not unhappy about the race's transfer.
Phillips said: "There's something to be said for the fact that we've had an extra week and that the race is now at Kempton not Ascot - it might not entirely be a bad thing. The horse does appear to be in very good form and this has always been the aim."
Turgeonev attempts his first success since landing last season's Victor Chandler, with trainer Tim Easterby looking for a prominent showing.
"He was nearly back to his best last time and hopefully he's back to his best now," he said.
Fadoudal du Cochet, in front of Dark'n Sharp when winning the Grand Annual Chase in March, finished third to Beef Or Salmon last time, while Castleford Chase faller Redemption sports blinkers for the first time.
Young Devereaux survives a blunder at the last before securing victory over Seebald (right) at Ascot last month. The pair reoppose in the Tote Exacta Chase at Kempton today
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|Publication:||The Racing Post (London, England)|
|Date:||Jan 18, 2003|
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